No single human being has ever had as much influence on me as Bill Hicks had. Not one. Sure, Bob Dylan makes me think and I like the Beatles, I’ve even been known to laugh at Monty Python. They never completely changed my perception of the world though.
The first time I ever saw any of his act must have been on Channel 4 (looking back it was probably Relentless), the vehemence with which he attacked those things that disgusted him was amazing. I’d never seen someone so angry, or informed, about a subject.
Virtually unknown in the states Hicks only ever really became moderately famous in the UK. Part of the reason for his lack of success in the States could be attributed to his poor opinion of America, and his disappointment in people he once admired. Jay Leno, presenter of The Tonight Show, was one such entertainer. Originally idolised by Hicks for his comedic ability Hicks noted that he’d been reduced to hawking Doritos at a point in his career when he was already comfortable.
You not got enough money, you fucking whore? You’ve got to sell snacks to fucking bovine America now?
It was this kind of rampant commercialism in his heroes that dissapointed Bill the most. A struggling young actor taking a role in an advert was one thing, but millionaire sell-outs was entirely another. The idea that anything could have a dollar sign attached and be sold, integrity included, seemed to rile him most.
By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing… kill yourself. I’m just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day, they’ll take root – I don’t know. Kill yourself. Seriously. You are the ruiner of all things good, seriously.
Outspoken on virtually all the topics you could care to mention from the Kennedy assassination to people involved in marketing, Hicks has left a lasting impression on my world and would suggest that you try and let him do the same to you.
Of late Bill Hicks has been derided as a fad, as someone who didn’t really have much to say but shouted and swore a lot, a man without any good material. And sure enough if you look hard enough you can find evidence of that on some of the recordings of his sets on YouTube. Calling an audience member a cunt wouldn’t get you many repeat gigs nowadays.
But looking past the shouty ranting reveals a man who really knew what was important, who knew the path the world was on.
Bill Hicks died of pancreatic cancer on the 26th of February 1994 and the world he left behind is just a little bit heavier for it.